Edibles are great way to consume Cannabis. While there is a bit of a delay before the effects kick-in, the effects last much longer (6-8 hours). With edibles, the THC is actually digested into 11-OH-THC first, which is stronger than delta-9-THC. Smoking Cannabis can destroy half of the active ingredient, and it can irritate the bronchi and gunk up the lungs. And edibles are discreet, while other ways to consume can attract unwanted attention. So edibles have some advantages. But some people are intimidated by making edibles. This post is designed to explain how to make a batch of medicated chocolates.
First, let’s outline the basic steps.
1) Plan and prepare.
2) Decarboxylate the Cannabis.
3) Extract the Cannabinoids into oil.
4) Blend the oil into chocolate.
1) Plan and Prepare. The planning phase involves a number of questions, like how much herb do you have, how strong do you want each serving to be, or how many servings do you want to prepare.
First (assuming that you are most interested in the THC content), lets figure out how much THC you have in total.
Lets use an example where a person has a fairly small amount of herb (2 grams) and they want normal strength servings (10 mg is often considered one serving in many legal states; if your tolerance is high, you may need more than 10 mg per session, but 10 is a good benchmark for many people).
If you live in Colorado, Oregon, or another place where Cannabis is state-legal and tested, then the vendor will provide a % THC number. If not, you will need to estimate it. If you have a really potent product, the percentage THC might be as 25% … that type of herb has lots of frosty white trichome ‘crystals’ on the surface. If it is a more average product, the THC might be around 15%.
Let’s say that we have 2 grams or 2000 milligrams (mg) of flower and is average potency, maybe around 15% THC. If we multiply these two numbers together, we get the the total amount of THC. 2000 mg X 0.15 = 300 mg of active ingredient.
Now lets divide the amount of THC by the number of servings, which gives us milligrams per serving. I just happen to have silicone molds to make 30 ‘peanut butter cup’ shaped chocolates. So 300 mg divided by 30 gives us servings that contain about 10 mg each. This number is not exact – it is better to start low and go slow, so you might want to begin by taking 1/4 of a piece the first night, one half the second, and so on, to gently find what dose your body needs.
OK, planning is well under way. I know that if I fill my chocolate molds all the way to the rim, each well holds 10 grams of chocolate. So I will need a total of 300 grams of material to make a batch. For a two gram batch, I use 50 grams of virgin coconut oil plus 250 grams chocolate. Measure the 250 grams chocolate and set that aside.
2) Decarboxylate. In raw Cannabis, most of the THC is in the acidic form – it is actually THCA, not THC. This acidic form is not psychoactive. Smoking heats the THCA enough to drive off the carboxylic acid part and turn the resin into psychoactive (and pain-killing) THC. But baking in an oven will do the same thing.
Some people say that THCA is inactive, and that THC is active, but this is misleading, I believe. THCA is very active as an anti-inflammatory compound, and it reduces autoimmune activity. If you have MS, lupus, Hashimoto’s disease or some other autoimmune condition, you may not want to decarboxylate. If your concern is treating pain, defeating insommnia, or inducing euphoria, then decarboxylation is called for.
If you search on the internet, you will find many ways to decarboxylate. As a rule, if you have a double boiler and heat the oil to 212 degrees F, it will take about 90 minutes to reach maximal decarbing. If you want to use an oven, heat to 250 degrees F for about 45 minutes.
Heating your herb too hot and/or too long will reduce the amount of THC – some of will convert to CBN (sleep inducing). Heating it too low and/or not long enough means that there will be more THCA and less THC (maybe good for inflammatory conditions).
If you use an oven, please be aware that oven thermostats are notoriously imprecise. For a few dollars, you can get an IR heat gun that will give you a better idea if your oven is 250 degrees, or if it is really 280 degrees.
A pizza stone provides thermal mass and reduces temperature fluctuations. Not necessary, but if you have one, put it in the oven and wait for about 1/2 hour after the oven tells you that it is up to temperature.
Grind or break up the flower and put it into a small heat-resistant dish. Pop it in the 250 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes (or an hour if you are treating insomnia). Remove from the oven.
3) Extract the Cannabinoids into oil. Add 50 grams of virgin coconut oil to the bowl containing the flower. Take a spoon and crush and stir the herb for a few minutes. Keep the oil warm but not too hot (maybe 150 degrees) for a few hours, stirring and crushing occcassionally. The longer you wait and the more you stir, the more cannabinoids will dissolve into the oil. Two to 4 hours should suffice.
Strain the oil through a fine wire mesh screen into a larger bowl (big enough to also hold the chocolate). You can put the herb into a garlic press and squeeze to extract the last drops of oil).
4) Start dissolving the chocolate into the oil. Chocolate melts around body temperature, and the bowl should be in a container of warm water to keep it warm. Heating chocolate too high will change the final texture of the pieces (and not for the better), so no need to heat it up very high.
Start by adding a few pieces, and stir until the mixture is even. Then stir some more. Keep adding a bit of chocolate, stirring, and adding more. It is very important to get the oil distributed through the chocolate evenly, or else some of the chocolates will be noticeably stronger, while others will be weaker.
Once all the chocolate is melted and thoroughly stirred into the blend, fill your molds and pop the molds in the refrigerator. I try to fill each cavity completely, as this makes consistency easier.
Coconut oil makes the final product smoother, creamier, and more delicious (at least to my tastes). Coconut oil also makes the final product softer, and lowers the melting point. I take the hardened pieces out of the mold and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or a jar.